Time Travel Tuesday

Annie's Time Travel Tuesday today asks for stories of "dates gone wrong". That topic just begged for a quick story...one of Billy's favorites about our dating days:

When Billy and I met, we both worked in the child protective services field...he as an investigator for a contract agency, and me as a foster care worker for the state. Our first actual *date* (not counting lunch at McDonald's:)) was bowling with mutual friends from our respective agencies. We happened to both be on call...and happened to both be covering *two* pagers that weekend (an unusual occurrence). We also each had agency cell phones (back in the days when cell phones were still pretty rare...in fact, they were both *bag phones*, to give you some idea of how long ago it was!)

Bowling was in full swing when the inevitable happened...Billy's pager went off. He called and received the bad news that there was a baby in the ER with slap marks on her face...a priority one investigation which required immediate response. Within minutes, both of *my* pagers went off. Sure enough...same case.

So...our first *official* date ended up in the ER, shared with law enforcement officers and medical personnel. It was a sign of things to come...many more *dates* interrupted by the buzz of a pager or the ring of a cell phone. Funny thing is, that is the only case I ever remember us being called out on *together*.

Must not have been *too* big a disaster, since we were married just over two years later (and while "and neither of us shall ever work in child protective services again" wasn't part of our actual wedding vows, we did commit to each other that we would *not* ever take another CPS job.)


Menu Plan Monday

I'm rarely happy that it's Monday...but after the excitement of last week (in particular, the ER visit and the unexpected haircut ), I'm really glad that last week is *over* and a new week has begun! The menu for this week is not too exciting, as I'm in *use up what you have* mode:

Monday--Twice Baked Potatoes
Tuesday--Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Spaghetti Sauce
Wednesday--Chicken Nuggets and Mac and Cheese
Thursday--King Ranch Chicken
Friday--Burritos and Rice

To see what others are cooking this week, head over to Orgjunkie for more Menu Plan Mondays.


*Fixed* Hair (sort of...)

After a long stint with the curling iron and a good amount of hair spray this morning, Gracie's hair actually looked kind of cute...from the front, at least. From the back, well...that's another story.


Just for Comparison....

Here is Ammah Grace *before* her self-inflicted (and yes, the connation of that word *is* intentional :)) hair cut:

(Incidentally, that was *also* before her ER trip Monday...so it is the *last* "pre-stitches, pre-black-eye, pre-do-it-yourself-haircut" picture. I'm sighing again...)

*Big Sigh*

One thing about Ammah Grace...she may be tiny, but she always does whatever she does in a *big* way. I guess it has something to do with all the excitement and attention she received the first six weeks of life (and beyond). Once more, she has completely outdone her siblings (and virtually every other child I know...and *not* in a good way!)

I had just been noticing for the past week or so how long and thick her hair was finally getting (long and thick for Ammah Grace, that is...she takes after her sister Bayley in that we weren't sure either of them was ever going to have enough hair to make a pony tail.) We have really been having fun lately putting her hair up in different styles.

But alas...puppy tails and triple ponies are to be no more. Emlyn came running into the bedroom where Bayley and I were tonight yelling, "there's a whole *ton* of hair on the floor, Mama, and Gracie has been cutting hers!"

Now, I know, that is just one of those things that kids do...and all my others have done it, too. But it has always been something that while it might necessitate a change in hairstyle for a while, and irritate me because I knew there was a chunk missing, wasn't *terribly* noticeable to anyone else.

When Emlyn started yelling, I got up and took off for the living room to check out the damage...and I could see it from 10 feet away. *Not* a good sign. I took her into the dining room to survey it more closely, just in time to see Emlyn holding up what looked like enough hair to make a complete wig for a small child: "Look, Mama!! LOOK at all this HAIR!"

Sure enough, I kept finding more and more spots with hair cut almost to the scalp. Pretty quickly, I found a couple of spots with hair just about an inch long...and then I found one spot that made *those* spots look long. (And mind you, she had been in the dining room *less* than five minutes...she had been in the bedroom with Bayley and I only minutes before.)

All we could figure out to do at the moment was to cut her hair off to chin length...and then I guess in the morning we'll try to curl it a bit and brush it over the bald spots as best we can, hair spray it, and hope for the best.

I keep trying to remind myself that "it's just hair". But on the heels of that comes the thought that she will be doing long division before parts of her hair grow back to the length they were an hour and a half ago. I guess I should just be glad she didn't try to cut her stitches out.


*Big Sigh*

ETA: I just realized that the sundress she was wearing tonight when she cut her hair...was the same one she was wearing Monday when she fell and cut her head. I'm thinking we may have a ceremonial burning tomorrow!


Show and Tell Friday

I have no fine art in my house. (I *do* actually have a painting by a professional artist, but that is another day's story. :)) Right now our house is in a (seemingly unending) state of transition, so I haven't done much *decorating* in a while. But when I am in decorating mode, the things I most enjoy using are things that are not only beautiful (or at least interesting ;-)), but that also have a story behind them...things with meaning to our family. Such is the case with one of my favorite *works of art* in my living room.

(Please forgive the picture quality...try as I might I could *not* get a good picture of this picture. These were the best of about 45 shots!)

This picture is about 66 years old. My dad painted it when he was somewhere around the first grade. Apparently my grandmother was quite proud of it, as she framed it in this frame, and I assume it hung in their house at some point. By the time I was born, it had been packed away in a box or a closet for many years, I'm sure. Around the time Billy and I got married, my grandmother had pulled it out while cleaning, and had it in a stack of things to get rid of. I happened by and asked what it was...and when I discovered that it was a childhood masterpiece of Daddy's, immediately claimed it for my own and it has had a place of honor in our living room ever since.

Daddy wasn't especially excited about it's newfound home. He used to good-naturedly grouse about it periodically when he was here, and act as though he would have preferred it had been taken to the burn barrel. I think he was a little bit pleased, though, that I considered it special enough to hang on my wall. For me it is a very precious example of *found art*, and no matter how our decor may change over the years, it will always find a place on my wall!

To see what others are sharing today, stop in at There's No Place Like Home.


Thankful Thursday

I'm always thankful for my children, but this week I wanted to dwell on some specifics about them for Thankful Thursday:

1.Peter--The other day we were out and he waved and smiled at an older man we passed, and then he said, "I just love older people!" I'm thankful for the love and sensitivity God has given him for older adults. He showed that from a very young age. When Peter was about 4, my dad went about 18 months when he had extremely limited vision. During that time, he continued to sing in the choir at church, which was challenging not only because he could not see the music we were singing, but also because at that time, the choir came down from the choir loft to sit in the congregation before the pastor's sermon. The combination of his near blindness and his very unsteady gait due to previous strokes made this very difficult. We worried about him, but he was determined. One week as my dad made his way slowly around the auditorium to where we were seated, Peter...without any prompting...got up from his seat and took off around the back of the auditorium. We panicked at first, not knowing where he was headed...and then realized...he had gone to take Papaw's hand and lead him back to his seat. He did that for many weeks...and it still brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it. He is still the first to offer to carry something out of the blue for an elderly stranger, and still counts a number of older adults among his favorite people.

2. Bayley--From the time she was tiny, Bayley has been known for her diligence. She is our *Italian child*...she truly takes after her Daddy and her Italian Nonna and her namesake, Granny Kitty, and their hard-working natures. I rarely have to worry about Bayley's chores, and often she will be found cleaning and organizing things *just for fun*. I've recently realized that I am going to have to work quite diligently myself to stay ahead of her if I am to train her to be a Godly homemaker. She is becoming a young lady so fast, and I am convicted and challenged that God has given her a love for being a keeper at home that I need to tend and nurture.

3. Emlyn--I was reminded again this week of Emlyn's love of *little things*. She notices the things that most of us miss...the tiny flower, an interesting bug...anything in miniature. She draws tiny pictures, she writes in tiny handwriting, and she picks out her books at the library based on their size...the smaller the better. In keeping of her love of *little things*, Em has always been our most contented child. And in a family full of kids that are mostly *chips off of Billy's block*, she is also the one most like me.

4. Ammah Grace--Tiny but Tough. That's Ammah Grace. "A whopping 27 pounds", in Billy's words Monday (at 3 1/2!), she is one tough cookie. The staff at UAMS pegged her as "tough and hard-headed" when I was there on bedrest with her before she was ever born...and they knew what they were talking about! God gave her an incredible resilience to not only survive, but truly thrive, through a very traumatic beginning...and she is a daily reminder to us of His power and faithfulness. She is also just plain old *cute*...and keeps all of us smiling (and usually laughing) no matter how hard life gets. I am so very thankful this week in particular that despite her current *Scarface* appearance, she wasn't hurt any worse in her tumble Monday.

To see what others are thankful for today, visit Iris at Sting My Heart.


Tackle It Tuesday

I didn't get to post my TT post this morning...because I was too busy tackling! I had a long list of things to do today, but two were *looming* because they had been on my list for so *long*, and because the time had come that they had to be done *or else*. The first was actually a conglomeration of phone calls, paperwork, and emails that needed to be tended to...things that have continually been shoved to the bottom of the list in the wake of all the *urgent* stuff going on around here lately (including my mom, my grandfather, and yesterday's ER visit with Ammah Grace ).

The second was cleaning off my desk. Now...you have to understand, *my desk* actually comprises a corner of our dining room, and includes my actual *desk* (on which the computer sits), another desk, and a huge rubbermaid container full of 12x12 scrapbook paper.) Somehow everyone in the family has gotten in the habit of putting anything they can't find a place for on one of the two desks, and *I* have gotten in the habit of piling everything in the world that is important to me either on top of the vertical file on my desk (because it is too stuffed to actually put anything *in* it), or on the Rubbermaid *paper box*.

I finished both tasks...and I feel *so* much better. Somehow in the chaos, getting a list of *little chores* (like the paperwork/calls/emails) out of the way...and getting some order in my *space* even when I can't seem to manage much in my *schedule*...really helps. I'm ready to get up and *tackle* the rest of the week now!

See what others tackled today at 5 Minutes for Mom.

ER Summer

I'm guessing in our family, Summer 2007 will come to be known as "ER Summer". Sounds a bit like a novel title, doesn't it? NOT how I was planning for the story of our summer to read.

I know we have probably spent *more* time in the same timeframe in the ER, back in the days when Daddy was so sick and we spent something like 5 consecutive holidays in the ER with him...but for *different* people in the same family, I'm thinking maybe we are going for a record of some sort. (Actually, we have friends we are probably neck in neck with, but I'm pretty sure that *both* of our families are ready to drop out of the running and give the title to someone else now...:)) I guess I started it all with my ankle this spring. And then Papa and Mother in June, and now Ammah Grace for July.

Yes, Ammah Grace. She now also holds the record for ER visits for children in our family. Fortunately, it only took two trips to claim that record...up until yesterday, she and Bayley were tied at one. (Bayley went as an infant when Peter, not quite two, threw a board book and happened to hit her in the eye. Ammah Grace went last June when she broke her arm.)

Anyway, the hubbub all started yesterday afternoon...when Ammah Grace began screaming at the top of her lungs and the three big kids half carried/half drug her to me, all trying, amid screams and tears, to tell me what had happened. I finally gathered that she had fallen on the coffee table and hit her head, about the time I cleaned the blood off enough to tell that the damage appeared to be confined to the area around her left eyebrow.

There are times when having a husband who works in the ER is really rough...but on days like yesterday, we certainly see the perks. They got us straight in, bent the rules to let the kids come back with us, and just all-in-all made a *really* bad experience much better than it could have been. And I am *so* thankful that Billy was able to drop everything and stay with us the whole time (*he* got to stay in the room with her and help hold her down while they stitched her up, while I stayed in the hall with the other kids.) She now has four stitches, a *serious* shiner, and the promise of a nice little scar on her eyebrow. :( But...we are *so* thankful that it wasn't any worse...it certainly could have been, and we are thankful for God's protection and His working even on the *not-so-good days*.

Speaking of which...Dr. Barnett asked the kids how their summer was going. One of them said "fine", and then Emlyn said, "well, except for *this* day" in this extremely exasperated voice. I kind of laughed, and then I said, "well, actually...this is sort of how our whole summer has been, come to think of it..."

I'm hoping this will be the *last* installment of "ER Summer"!

Menu Plan Monday

Okay...I *know* this is Tuesday. And I *know* it says "Menu Plan MONDAY". But can I be excused for posting a day late if I tell you that I was in the *middle* of finalizing our menu for the week when our 3 year old fell into the coffee table and we suddenly found ourselves spending Monday afternoon in the Emergency Room? More about that in its *own* special post (complete with pictures...and those who know me, know they are *not* at all graphic!:)), but first, on with our menu...

Monday--Creamy Tacos (Billy had made these all by himself Sunday night while I was at church...thank goodness for leftovers because after a day in the ER with 4 children, I was *not* up to cooking!)

Tuesday--My *plan* was Twice Baked Potatoes...but Billy came home with coupons for free kid's meals from Chick-Fil-A, so we did that instead. :)

Wednesday--Tortellini with salad, green beans, and french bread

Thursday--Enchiladas (I'll try to remember to post this recipe tomorrow...Billy loves these and they are a little different as they don't use traditional red sauce.)

Friday--Honey Mustard Chicken, Noodles, Veggies

Now...I can't wait to head over to Orgjunkie and see what I missed from other people's MPM posts yesterday!


SMART Habits Saturday

UGH! I gave the fridge a long-overdue cleaning today...and was *completely appalled* at the amount of food I threw away. I'm trying to make myself feel better by saying that the past month has been really crazy...but it still makes me ill to think of the money I tossed out today. So...this week's SMART Habit is going to be *keeping track of perishables and using them before they go bad!* I'm going to try to get back into the mode of using what needs to be used first, first, rather than using what is *easiest at the moment*. (*Sigh*)

I did a little better on my first two *habits* this week...I'm doing better, although still not 100%, on having my quiet time *first thing*, and I did better on being more positive with the kids (although I still have much work to do there, too
:( ).

For more thoughts on building good habits, see the SHS posts at The Lazy Organizer .


Show and Tell Friday

Is there anything more exciting than a box full of books?? Last night when I picked up the kids at J's house, she sent home a box of books her children had outgrown. This morning has been like Christmas...the kids have been exclaiming over first one book and then another:
"Oh, wow, look, Mom!"
"Check this out!"
"Oh, I can't wait to read this!" (heard several times from my sometimes reluctant reader :))
*I* can't wait to read them, either...I'm having trouble deciding what to read first. I'm just really glad we had already planned an extra-long reading session this morning!

See what others are excited about today at There's No Place Like Home .


Thankful Thursday

I have had all kinds of things I planned to blog about this week, but I just haven't gotten that far. Hopefully I can make up for that in the next day or two...but in the meantime, I am *determined* to get in my Thankful Thursday post!

This weeks' "Thankfuls" are a bit random...I guess that is how my mind is working at the moment. :)

1. I have a date tonight! Billy and I haven't gotten to go out much in the past year, so it is a real treat when we get to for any reason. Billy was asked to speak at a meeting tonight, so my friend J is going to keep the kids while we go get a bite to eat and then go to the meeting. What a treat!

2. A slower week. It has been really nice to be at home more this week and start getting back on schedule even a *little* bit.

3. Along with that, some time to cook, and plan menus. I'm actually looking forward to shopping day tomorrow again, because I have a good menu planned and will hopefully have time to cook it. :)

4. More on this in another post, but Darcy is doing well and so far we have not had any significant puppy problems (at least with the puppy itself...we still have a little work to do as far as the kids *sharing* the puppy. ;-))

5. Cooler temperatures than usual. We have had a really *mild* summer here...we've had a smattering of temps in the low nineties so far, but mostly our highs have stayed in the 80s. I'm *really* thankful for the break from our usually sweltering summer temps.

For more Thankful Thursdays, swing by and see Laurel Wreath, who is guest hosting this week's Thankful Thursday.


Welcome Home, Darcy!

Puppy Owners. Yep...that's us. For those who know me well and who *haven't* been in on this escapade...pick yourselves up off the floor and dust yourselves off while I explain. :) Billy is a dog person. I am...well, not exactly a dog person. I have nothing against dogs, really, I am just perfectly content to live life without one. When we were first married, I brought a puppy home for Billy. Mattie was a *wonderful* dog. She was well-behaved, cute, fun...and she ate popsicles.:-D When she got out and was hit by a car one July 4th, we were devastated.

We have talked about getting a dog for a long time. Billy wanted one, the kids wanted one, I...really didn't think it was time for a dog yet. When we get more done to the house, when the kids are older, when things settle down...just not right now.

Then a lady in our homeschool group posted on the loop...free puppies, 1/2 dachshound, 1/2 beagle. Now. Billy has always wanted a beagle. I have always wanted a basset hound or...a dachshound. I was tempted. But no...life is too chaotic now. We did *not* need a puppy now on top of everything else we have going on.

Then Billy saw the email. I could tell he *really* wanted one of these puppies. I was determined to hold my ground. Except...I had been praying for something I could do to bless my husband. You see...in all the chaos that has been going on lately, he is the one who has really borne the brunt of things. He has kept the house and the kids going when I have had to be gone dealing with my grandfather and my mom. He has brought me treats, encouraged me to get out when I've needed to just *get away*, and just generally kept me going. So...I had been praying for a way to do something for him that would make him really happy.

But *surely* this wasn't the answer. *Surely* this wasn't what God meant. *Surely* God knew I didn't need a dog right now.

Then my friend K and I were discussing the dog via IM. She has wanted us to get a dog ever since *they* got a dog a year or so ago. Finally, in the midst of all her good-natured ribbing about how much we needed a dog, she said, "No, seriously, I know the last thing you need right now is a dog." *Whew* Confirmation. No dog for us. Then she had to follow it up with this..."Unfortunately, I think your husband *does* need a dog." Oh man. Ouch. Ack. Arrgghh.

I am pretty sure that she did *not* mean for me to take it the way that I did...but it was as though God was saying "And that's what marriage is all about...putting the other's needs above your own."

So...today we picked up Darcy. She is *really* cute and super-sweet, and *so far* really well-behaved (of course, that could be from the extreme culture shock she's experienced today!) The kids keep saying, "I can't believe we have a dog of our very own." And Billy...well, he has started spoiling the little thing already. As for me...well, I'm getting pretty fond of her myself. Stay tuned for more reports on the puppy front...

SMART Habits Saturday

I've missed SHS the past few weeks, and I haven't done real well with my first habit...daily quiet time *first thing*. I'm going to keep working on that one this week, and add another: *think before I speak* with my children. I have realized this week that I have let stress and health issues get the best of me way too often, and it has really impacted how I communicate with my children...which is, in turn, impacted their behavior.:-( So, this week I need to get *out* of the habit of being negative with my children, and get *back* in the habit of kind, gentle speech.

For more ideas on building SMART habits, go to The Lazy Organizer.


Still Amazed

I'm combining a couple of posts today...I wanted to participate in Show and Tell Friday (for the first time), and I found the scrapbook page that I wanted to share on Tuesday (I *still* haven't completely finished my Tackle, by the way, but I *have* made a lot of headway and *did* find the missing scrapbook pages...whew!!), so I thought I would share this scrapbook page as my *show and tell* for today. :) It's a bit long because of the journaling from the scrapbook page...I'm sorry about that!

Last week at Sam's, the girl at the check-out offered to scan our items in our cart, rather than our having to take everything out and put it on the conveyor. Ammah Grace was still in the cart, so Billy said, "We already paid for her." The girl laughed and said, "and how much was she?" and Billy laughed and said, "pretty expensive". The girl said something like "I can imagine," and I laughed then and said, "well, this one was more expensive than most...she spent 6 weeks in NICU at UAMS...so she was *really* expensive." The girl began to ask questions about Ammah Grace and why she was in the hospital so long, so I shared a little of her story. As we left, she said, "She sure does look healthy and happy to have gone through all that." And I was reminded again of how blessed we are.

This page was made before Ammah Grace was 9 months old. The title is "Every Little Thing You Do," and it talks about how every thing that Gracie did just *amazed* me...even though I had seen our three other children do the very same things. After our experience in Sam's the other day, I realized that I am *still* amazed at *every little thing" she does...even at 3 1/2! I don't know that I will ever get used to her being *normal*...I think I will always be in wonder at God's work in her.

Here is the journaling under the flap...

"Any mom of a large family will tell you, if she's honest, that while you love all your children *equally*, you don't love them all the *same*. My love for Peter, my first-born (and only boy), is very different from my love for Bayley, my first little girl. My love for Bayley, the most sensitive of you all so far, is much different from my love for Emlyn, my easy-going, contented child, and the one who reminds me the most of myself at that age. And my love for your three siblings, who were born healthy, perfect miracles, is very different than my love for you, the baby we were afraid wouldn't make it, the baby I sat with in NICU for weeks on end, praying and wondering about what we would face once we finally left those walls. I certainly don't love any one of you *more* or *less*, but my love for each of you is *different* and *special*.

"I see this so much with you. One would think, by the fourth child, that everything would be pretty much old hat. We've done the diapers-bottles-sleepless-nights-first-smiles-first-teeth-rolling-over thing a few times before! But I am constantly amazed at *every little thing you do*. I remember laughing at your Daddy in NICU the first time he got to change your diaper. He was SOO excited to have gotten to change that little diaper. And frankly, I was jealous that it was him, and not me! now, after three other children, I must say that was a first...that we were fighting *to* change a diaper, rather than NOT TO! But when your child is two weeks old and you have not yet been able to physically meet *one* of her needs, you'll take anything...even a smelly diaper! :)

"I also remember sitting in NICU, looking at you in the warmer bed, back when we couldn't even hold you yet...just sit and quietly talk or sing to you...and wondering if I would ever see you smile. The neonatologists had warned that they really couldn't give a prognosis at that point...so much depended on the damage that had already been done by your brain hemorrhage and how it healed from that point on. They warned of brain damage, cerebral palsy, blindness, hearing problems...and the list went on. As I sat and sang to you and prayed, I suddenly realized I might never see you smile at me intentionally. That you might never squeal in delight at your Daddy's silliness, or laugh at your brother and sisters as they played. It was a sobering thought, and although Daddy and I both knew that we would love you no matter what, it was more painful than I can describe to think of what you (and we) might be facing.

"I guess that is why now I am so awed by *every little thing you do*. Although you have been smiling for months now, I still sit and just marvel as you look into my eyes and break into that gummy grin. I am overcome with gratitude when I hear you squealing in delight at your Daddy's silly antics, and I still have to fight the urge to cry every time I see you laughing at Peter, Bayley, and Emlyn as they spend hours a day entertaining you (and thus, you entertaining them as well!)

"After physical therapy yesterday, you were laughing at Mrs. Martha on the way out the door, and she said, "You know, she just smiles with her whole body...how incredible..." I told her about what I had just told Mamoe...that every mother delights in her child's smile, but that when you have experienced the awareness that your child might never be able to smile at you, those smiles are even more incredible. Martha replied that she had just been thinking that very thing...and that we have "come out smelling like a rose" from all of this. We again talked about how exciting it is to think about all the prayers that were said for you, and then to have the results of those prayers smiling up at us, "with her whole body"...what a blessing!

"And what a blessing to experience *every little thing you do*..."

Three years later, it is *still* a blessing...and I am still amazed every time I see her smile!


Thankful Thursday

I am thankful this morning for the ways that God always reminds us at just the right time...through His Word, through music, through the written and spoken words of His people...of His character and faithfulness. We just keep hitting *bumps in the road*...with my grandfather, my mom's arm, health issues, and extended family issues. It is so easy to get discouraged and to focus on circumstances instead of "keeping our eyes on Jesus". But God always sends exactly what we need...when we are where we are supposed to be, and when we are listening for it.

Last night was a good example. I wasn't feeling well...the kids had been really cranky...I was *not* in the mood to go to church. I really wanted to stay home, put everyone to bed right after supper, and go curl up under the covers myself. But I had to be at church to play for the older children's choir. The kids kept asking if we were staying for *choir kids* (childcare during adult choir), and I just wasn't sure I was going to make it. But...because we hadn't had choir in a while, and the kids really wanted to stay, I decided to try to stick it out.

As usual, I'm glad I did. One of the songs we did last night was an old choir favorite, "He's Been Faithful". My friend K sings it periodically as a special, and I cry every time. :) It was a very needed reminder last night, especially as I remembered other times that we have sung it or I have heard it sung...especially the first time that K sang it after her son was born in incredibly miraculous circumstances. Somehow songs like this always seem to be my *standing stones*. In the Old Testament, the people would erect standing stones as monuments...reminders to future generations of God's faithfulness in their lives. There are songs in my life that are exactly that...every time I hear them, they remind me of God's faithfulness at some specific point in my life. This is one of them:

He's Been Faithful

In my moments of fear, through every pain, every tear;
there's a God who's been faithful to me.
When my strength was all gone, when my heart had no song,
still in love He's proved faithful to me.
Every word He's promised is true;
what I thought was impossible I see my God do.

He's been faithful, faithful to me.
Looking back His love and mercy I see.
Though in my heart I have questioned, even failed to believe,
yet He's been faithful, faithful to me.

When my heart looked away, the many times I could not pray,
still my God, He was faithful to me.
The days I spent so selfishly reaching out for what pleased me,
even then God was faithful to me.
Every time I come back to Him, He is waiting with open arms,
I see once again.

He's been faithful, faithful to me.
Looking back His love and mercy I see.
Though in my heart I have questioned, even failed to believe,
yet He's been faithful, faithful to me.

--Carol Cymbala

I am thankful that He *has* been faithful...and for the reminders of His faithfulness that come just when we need them most. I'm also thankful for the weekly reminder to *be thankful* through Thankful Thursday .


Tackle It Tuesday

I have debated and debated about what my tackle was going to be today. When you have a list a mile long of things that *have* to be done....how do you pick one to be a tackle? :-) Then I decided I wanted to use a scrapbook page from a few years ago as the basis of a blog post, so I opened the scrapbook cabinet and began to look for it. It wasn't there. No problem. I used to teach scrapbook classes, and submit pretty regularly to scrapbook mags, so more of my pages are *not* in albums than *are*. I have a box that has a stack of pages that never got *put up* after I used them for whatever purpose, so I began to sift through the layouts in the box. It wasn't there, either. NOW I was beginning to get worried. What's more, in looking for this particular one, I realized that there were several I couldn't put my finger on. ACK.

So...today's tackle is...sort and declutter the dining/school room (which also houses my scrapbook area.) And in the process...FIND THE MISSING SCRAPBOOK PAGES. I'll check in later and let you know where they were hiding out. In the meantime, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom to see what others are tackling today.



I have to admit...in my younger (pre-marriage, pre-mommy) days...I was a magazine junkie. My new, much more frugal, self rarely buys a magazine...other than an occasional indulgence in a scrapbook magazine. (Even those are more likely to be a gift from my sweet husband.) But this one almost jumped off the shelf at me the other day. I was just going to take a quick peek...really. And then the quick peek turned into perusing every page. Slow-cooker recipes, an entire article on waffles, healthy snacks, kids cooking...and a mouth-watering "Peanut Butter Swirl Ice Cream Cake". Billy peered over my shoulder and said, "Get it." So I did. :)

EAT Magazine is a BHG Special Interest Publication. From what I've seen so far, I hope it becomes a regular. This week we are going to try some of the smoothie recipes, frozen yogurt pops, and a new waffle recipe over the weekend. (Did I mention there's a picture of every recipe? Yum.)


"The saint is hilarious when he is crushed with difficulties, because the thing is so ludicrously impossible to anyone but God." --Oswald Chambers

What a quote! And how I need to remember it right now. I found an *updated* version of the book (My Utmost for His Highest) with this wording...""But a saint can 'be of good cheer' even when seemingly defeated by adversities, because victory is absurdedly impossible to everyone, except God."

Bro. Kent's sermon yesterday was excellent. He has been preaching through the book of John for almost two years, I think...and we are in chapter 11. :) But it never ceases to amaze me how God always sends exactly what I need to hear through the verses we *happen* to be to that week. Yesterday's sermon went right along with this quote. It was taken from John 11:1-16, which "addresses the time in our lives when we go through a terrible, perhaps life altering trial." Here are a few snippets from my notes:

*They didn't go into great detail about what was wrong or what they wanted Him to do about it...they simply brought the situation to Him.

*God urges us to trust Him completely with the results...they knew no one would know better than Him what needed to be done...they didn't ask Him *how* to resolve it.

*God always looks at our trial as it relates to the big picture--He knows things we don't know (i.e. "this sickness will not end in death...") When we get angry with God we are showing that we don't trust Him and we don't believe that He is working for our good. God sees the big picture...way bigger than us...and He says "It's going to be better than good, it's going to be awesome."

*God's response may not make sense to you right now...sometimes what God does to/for us doesn't make sense to us, but it is always because He loves us. Not that He always causes it...our sin and the sin of others often plays a part...but he allows even our suffering....for a purpose, to make us more like Jesus.

*God has power to work in our situation...and He will. If He doesn't do it the way we want Him to, then it is b/c He has a better plan.

*"Everything He is doing in our lives is to lead us to trust Him without question...He is saying 'Just hang on--hang on tight, but hang on.'"

I am so thankful that His ways are higher than our ways...that He shows us His glory through working the *ludicrously impossible* in the midst of the crushing difficulties we are in. I want to be a *hilarious saint* in the midst of it all.

ETA: My Utmost for His Highest can be read online in original English here.

Menu Plan Monday

This is still a real challenge around here. My mom still can't drive and has been needing us to help her get back and forth to the nursing home to see my grandfather right around supper time several days a week. We never really know what the schedule is going to be until the time comes. So...I'm trying to be flexible this week. This is my *plan* of when we're having what....but it is subject to change suddenly. :) I've also stocked up on sandwich and salad stuff for the nights we're running too late for anything else. :)

Monday--Taco Soup and salad
Tuesday--Honey Mustard Chicken and Squash Casserole
Wednesday--Macaroni and Cheese *or* Eat at Church
Thursday--Big Batch Beef Sauce Spaghetti
Friday--Sausage/Tortellini Soup and Homemade Bread

See Laura's site for more great menu ideas!


Independence Day

When I remember the huge July 4 celebrations we used to have when I was little, ours the past few years are quite tame by comparison. But this year I was determined to celebrate, even if on a small scale...as last year we were in the middle of crisis and didn't do much of *anything*.

We ran errands with Mamoe (she still can't drive), and then I came home and actually *cooked*. That was somewhat of a celebration all in itself of late! :-) I did hamburgers on the indoor grill, cooked red, white, and blue potatoes (on sale for 50 cents a bag at Wal-mart, and they turned out *great*), and made not one but *two* desserts. (My family had forgotten I knew how to cook desserts...living in survival mode for so long had lost the Dessert Queen her title long ago. :) The kids really liked the strawberry jello poke cake I made, and Billy is still raving about the cobbler I made from a recipe I found at Meredith's blog . I made a cherry one for the 4th, and I'm planning to try a peach one next. It was *really* yummy!

Then we went downtown for the fireworks. This is where I must insert that I have the *best* husband in the *entire* world. He *hates* crowds and isn't at all fond of fireworks (too many years working in the hospital and seeing fireworks injuries...) Our original plan, because the kids were *so* disappointed when we didn't go down to see the fireworks last year, was for me to take the three big kids and go downtown, while he and Gracie stayed home. Then over the weekend he said, "I'll go with you guys downtown if we can do what we did that year with your dad and just park in a parking lot somewhere and *watch* the fireworks from the van (i.e. have no involvement whatsoever with the crowd.:)) That was fine with me...I was just excited that he wanted to go! Then as we were leaving to go downtown, our good friends called and said they were on their way down, too, and did we want to meet them down there? We ended up in the *middle* of the *worst* of the crowd...there was a carnival-type thing set up that our church youth were helping with...and that was where we finally settled. The kids had a great time seeing people from church and watching the dunking booth, etc....I had a good time chatting with friends and taking pictures....and poor Billy just endured for the rest of us! He is so wonderful, and we are so blessed to have a husband/dad who works so hard to make us happy...even when we don't ask! (At one point, Ammah Grace was on his shoulders and I heard him say "Wow. Those fireworks are really incredible." I looked up and realized she had his face completely covered with her fan. :-D Our friends started laughing, and he said, "I hate crowds and now I can't even see the fireworks" in this perfectly *Eyeore* voice. I was good enough to take her fan away so he could at least *see*. :))

I was experimenting with the fireworks mode on this camera...always before I've taken my Canon T-70 and my big zoom lens, but I thought I'd see how this went this year. I need to play with it more, but they weren't *too* bad...

Oh! And I almost forgot. I wasn't able to get many pictures of the big kids...every time I tried all I could get was *backs*. :) But I *did* get a picture of this really cool *stretch truck* that Peter was completely fascinated with...

In the midst of all the shopping, snacking, and celebrating, we tried to focus on the reason for it all...our thankfulness for those who sacrificed so much for the sake of freedom, and our thankfulness to God for allowing us to live here.

Now *THIS* is neat!! (and I really, really, need it. really.)

Jennifer is hosting a *really* cool contest at 5 Minutes for Mom. Ten people are going to win a NeatReceipts Scanalizer by entering her contest here...and I would *really, really* like to be one of them! This is one of those "I-didn't-know-I-needed-it-until-I-saw-it-and-now-I-really-have-to-have-one" things. My first thought when I saw it was scanning schoolwork....what a great way to keep all the records we need to keep and be able to toss lots of the paper clutter!! (Actually, what would happen is that my kids could actually *keep* the papers they are always begging to keep about which I'm always saying, "But I have to keep that for school!" ;-)) Then I watched the demo and got all kinds of ideas about scanning recipes...*that* would be wonderful! And then I realized how much I've been wanting to track exactly how much we are spending on different *categories* of things we buy at Wal-Mart and Sams...but I never have time. This would make that a snap. And then there was that idea Callapidder Days mentioned about the kids' artwork. And...And...And...

See why I *really* need to win this thing?? :-D


My Weary Soul, He Will Restore...

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

That is yet another verse that has taken on a whole new meaning recently. The last few weeks have been exhausting...but this past *year* has been unbelievably wearing on our family. A year ago this week we discovered a situation in our extended family that has been very painful and draining. Throughout the past year, we have been *so* determined to be obedient to God in this situation, determined that He would be glorified in our suffering. We have determined *not* to be angry, *not* to let bitterness take hold, to *choose daily* to forgive. God has blessed that in many ways.

But somehow the whole *one year anniversary* thing has hit hard. Yesterday I realized "I'm *tired* of doing the right thing. I'm ready to wallow in anger for a while. It would *feel good* to be bitter right now." I also began to feel like we really weren't *getting anywhere* by *doing the right thing*. I was really ready to throw a big pity party.

And then that verse popped into my head, from out of nowhere, it seemed. "Do not grow weary in doing good..." The rest of the night and even into this morning, I felt like a little kid with his fingers in his ears humming away while his mother tries to tell him something he doesn't want to hear. I didn't *want* to hear that verse.

But God just kept prompting, sending encouragement and gentle reminders that He is in control and His ways are perfect...even when they are painful.

I was reminded again of a hymn we sang not long ago that really spoke to me:

"My Savior is the Lord and King, He has control of everything,
He loves me and he bids me sing, He gives His song to me.

He calms my hurts and dries my tears, He gives me strength to face my fears,
He sends His grace through all my years, he gives His song to me.

My Savior, Jesus, I'll adore, my weary soul He will restore,
I'll praise His name forevermore, He'll give His song to me.

Jesus is the Song of Life, Jesus is the Song of Joy,
Jesus is the Song of Love, Jesus gives His Song to me."
--David Danner

I'm thankful that He *always* gives a song...even sometimes when I don't *want* one.



I feel funny even saying I *worked* in VBS last week. Because of extended family things going on, my friend J had said I could *help* her with the third grade (Bayley's class), but she wasn't going to plan on my being there. IOW...she did all the work and I just played gopher occasionally. :) It ended up being a good thing that I wasn't responsible for a class on my own, with all that happened with Papa and Mother in the weeks before VBS...but it was *really* strange not scurrying around preparing as I usually am! She did a great job, and *all* my kids seemed to have a wonderful time. Even Gracie went around all week chanting "Run the Race, Keep the Pace, Keep Your Eyes on JESUS!" :)

Going Toothless!!

In the middle of all the melee here lately, Emlyn had an important first...her first lost tooth! It had been *wiggly* for what seemed like forever, and every day she would say, "My tooth is going to come out today." Finally it did...just popped out when she took a bite of bread at supper one night! We tried and tried to get a good picture of her *gap*, but these were the best we could do. She has been really excited about her *Tooth-Daddy* money, though! (Dad has that impatient Italian streak and can't ever wait to put the money under the pillow...which could have something to do with his knowing mom will *forget*!...so he makes a big ceremony out of presenting it himself! :-D)